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Drugs of Abuse Tag-Team at Skeptically Speaking

A brainy, free, and fun online and radio chat-type call-in show on all things science. Hosted by Desiree Schell and edited by K.O. Myers. Awesomesauce. From Canada, of course.

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Canadian radio host Desiree Schell for her wildly-successful show, Skeptically Speaking. The episode on which yours truly appears can be accessed here.

Launched in March 2009, the show airs live on Sunday evenings at 6 pm Mountain Time on UStream where one can discuss the show and asks questions by live chat. The show also includes a previously recorded segment with another scientist and is then edited and distributed for rebroadcast to stations and networks across North America. The shorter pre-recorded segment where I appeared to speak about my most popular topic of the last two years on this blog, synthetic marijuana compounds.

I’m not entirely guilty of self-promotion here because I primarily wanted to mention that the first two-thirds of the show – the live part – was an interview with my neuropharmacologist friend, Scicurious, author of The Scicurious Brain blog at the Scientific American blog network and Neurotic Physiology at Scientopia. Sci has a gift for offering laser-sharp science in a hip, conversational manner.

Here’s how the Skeptically Speaking team describes the show:

With humour, enthusiasm and a lot of curiosity, Skeptically Speaking guides you through the fascinating world of science and critical thinking. We interview researchers, authors and experts to help listeners understand the evidence, arguments and science behind what’s in the news and on the shelves. A basic understanding of science, combined with a little bit of skepticism, goes a long way.

Note: The term “skepticism” may be new to you. If that’s the case, click here.

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Radiochem query in the school parking lot

So, I saw this today after dropping off PharmKid at her elementary school – a great homemade car sun visor:

Natural isotopic abundance fun in the elementary school parking lot. Credit: DJ Kroll/Terra Sigillata

Do you know the answer? Actually, first things first: do you know what the question is asking?

We’ll give a little more information later. I have no idea who the teacher or parent is who has this visor – the school goes from kindergarten to 5th grade and while I think our kids are brilliant, I’m not sure they will know the answer to the question.

I’ll just say for now that this visor brought me back to my radioisotopes undergraduate class at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science where the late Dr. Grafton Chase asked us to calculate the amount of radioactivity in a cargo ship full of bananas.

Ooooh, shiny! The new C&EN Mobile iPhone/iPad app

...and the Android version is forthcoming very soon. Credit: C&EN Mobile (Click photo to go to page).

Hi. I’m back, briefly. A convergence of family and day job commitments have kept me away from you for the last week but I wanted to check in.

Last night, I saw something on Twitter that C&EN has released their Apple iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad mobile app. You see, I tend to wind down my day reading on my iPhone in the dark to ease my way into somnolence – not just catching up on news and science but also reading some great non-fiction on The Atavist such as science writer David Dobbs’ outstanding story, My Mother’s Lover (backstory here).

But the C&EN tweet led me to immediately load the new, free C&EN Mobile app on my gadget.

Note: Although this post is appearing on a C&EN-hosted blog, the following is exclusively my own unsolicited commentary on the new C&EN app.

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Getting a rise out of helium

This post appeared originally on 22 October 2007 at the ScienceBlogs home of Terra Sigillata.

Sci/Med blogging is an interesting pastime. You can spend a tremendous amount of time writing a post and get two comments and 30 total viewers, or you can write a brief post about your daughter asking where helium comes from and get many more commenters and nearly a thousand viewers.

Clearly, the five-year-old is a better source for blog content. Q.E.D.

And, wow, what we have learned from our readers in response: one frequent Australian commenter, Chris Noble, confirmed the abundance of helium in Amarillo by noting their next shipment was indeed coming from Texas. Casey pointed us to an NPR story on the current helium shortage and Gretchen wistfully told us to stop filling our balloons so she could complete her experiments. Amarillo native, Biggs, noted the 50-foot high helium molecule in town – isn’t the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo too? (Those Amarillians seem to be enthusiastic about memorializing big things.).
Dave S. shared the tidbit that helium was detected on the Sun before it was found on Earth and Dr William Dyer told us that helium is a non-renewable resource because, while it is generated from radioactive alpha decay, the velocity of the particles is greater than the Earth’s escape velocity.

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